If we put aside the military reports that talk about soldier morale and activities that benefit it, primary sources about the Yugoslav People’s Liberation Struggle (Narodnooslobodilačka borba, NOB; 1941-1945) usually do not explicitly mention having fun. Therefore, as a guide in my research of fun during this war I use the definition of the word zabava, which is the translation of the word fun throughout the countries of the former Yugoslavia. According to the definition, zabava is a social event or performance with music and dancing, but also pleasant pastime or an activity that makes it possible to spend time pleasantly. Researching the activities defined in this way directed my inquires about fun during the NOB toward reading and analysis of the truly abundant memoir literature that exists about this war, which was by and large published during the existence of socialist Yugoslavia.
In this presentation, I will reflect on the avenues of research that delving into this body of sources has enabled me, but also on the limitations and blind spots that I have encountered so far.
Iva Jelušić is a postdoctoral researcher at the ERC project “War and Fun: Reconceptualizing Warfare and Its Experience.” She holds an MA in MATILDA European Women’s and Gender History from the Department of Gender Studies at Central European University (Budapest/Vienna) and a PhD in Comparative History from the
same university. Her dissertation, defended in 2022, focuses on the development of remembrance of the figure of the woman partisan, the partizanka, in the Yugoslav print media. Her research interests include women’s and gender history, cultural memory, and the media in the context of World War II and Cold War Europe.